A few years ago in a BookNotes post after Easter, I used the word “resurrectionary.” I’m not even sure it’s a word, but it ought to be. Who knows, maybe it will become seen as something akin to, but different than, “revolutionary.” In the light of the risen Lord who defeated Death itself, we can live as resurrectionaries.
I wanted to suggest some books this Easter day that might help us think about living out the truth of resurrection. There are so many good resources for deepening our discipleship and claiming the charge we are giving to harbingers of the Kingdom, but I thought I’d list a few recent ones that might move us in this direction just a bit.
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Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life Eugene H. Peterson (NavPress) $9.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $7.99
Many years right after Easter we suggest this small book, a grand study of three post-resurrection encounters. It is Eugene Peterson at his down-to-Earth best, inviting us to three practices learned from these three Bible stories. He teaches us about resurrection wonder, resurrection meals, and resurrection friendships. As it says on the back, we can “discover how the practices and perspectives of resurrection life transform your daily job, your daily meals, your daily relationships.”It is very good.
There’s a lovely foreword by one of Eugene’s sons, Presbyterian pastor Eric Peterson, too, speaking about his father’s death and the power of resurrection. Wow. I love this little book.
If the Tomb is Empty: Why The Resurrection Means Anything Is Possible Joby Martin & Charles Martin (FaithWords) $17.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39
This is a thoughtful work by an evangelical megachurch pastor — at least it seems like a megachurch, The Church of the Eleven22 — and a bestselling inspirational novelist. Despite the grandiose subtitle, this is not promoting prosperity thinking or offering easy, formulaic miracles, but it is convinced that resurrectionary living should have us poised for the previously unbelievable.
This book offers a deep dive into the history of salvation by highlighting seven stories that happen on mountains where God reveals himself. As it says on the back, “As he describes each encounter with God, Martin shows us how the interaction on each mountain laid the groundwork for the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.” Not only has God revealed promissory notes on these mountain-top encounters (Mount Moriah, Mount Sinai, Mount Carmel, the Mount of Beatitudes, the Mount of Temptation, the Mount of Transfiguration, and Mount Calvary) but he asks if we really understand the final words, “it is finished.” Is it? What is finished?
An Invitation to Joy: The Divine Journey to Human Flourishing Daniel J. Denk (Eerdmans) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
I knew that Eerdmans would not release a book that was cheesy or simplistic and I knew that with a foreword by Biblical scholar and justice-worker Christopher J.H. Wright (of the Langham Partnership) it would be solid, but I had little idea how badly I needed to read this myself. This guy gets the reasons why many of us are not overjoyed, he knows better than most the suffering found in this world — he has worked all over the world, including Eastern Europe, and has seen more injustice than most ever will. He is an introvert and not inclined, he tells us, to be that gushy or emotive about his intellectual faith. With blurbs on the back from scholars like George Marsden and Joel Carpenter, I felt like this guy was the sort of thoughtful leader I could trust to invite me to regain lost joy.
I appreciate Garwood Anderson’s note (from Nashotah House) that this book is both one we can learn from and that we can truly enjoy. It is, he says a gift “our rejoicing God wills to give us.” Indeed.
And listen to this recommendation from poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, who says:
Daniel Denk’s An Invitation to Joy: The Divine Journey to Human Flourishing is a powerful tool in these times of tremendous sorrow and pain, a book grounded in the word of God and in all we know as the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ. I see this book in church libraries everywhere, in Bible study classes across denominations, at theological seminars, in classrooms, and on every family shelf. This is a powerfully urgent and long-awaited book. — Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, poet, academic, and author of Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems.
Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters Carmen Joy Imes (IVP Academic) $22.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60
In an informal adult ed Sunday School class I help teach (you can watch it on Facebook if you want) I am doing a class next week on the ways a resurrectionary faith will lead us to be Earth-keepers and those who care well for creation. There are bunches of solid eco-theology books but this new one moves more deeply and more widely. It asks what it means to be human, what our essential calling is, our own purpose, identity, and significance. Studying the imago Dei is certainly a key part of knowing our relationship to the creation itself. And this new book is, I suspect, the new gold standard for ordinary readers.
With a brilliant foreword by the Old Testament scholar, J. Richard Middleton (who wrote the definitive scholarly work on the subject, The Liberating Image), this book serves as a great introduction and meaty exploration of our identity and calling (and all it means for work, gender relations and more.) Recovering our core calling as humans is part of what it means to be redeemed, one of the huge consequences of Easter, with the image of Christ restored to us as we live in Him.Some readers may recall that she spoke at Jubilee 2023 and did a great, great job. This is going to be a key book for resurrectionaries.
Ordinary Saints: Living Everyday Life to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
Well. I’ve highlighted this before and have gotten some very nice notes back saying how readers so appreciated it, a few folks naming their favorite chapters. There’s a lot here, and it is, I might suggest, a rare project — and almost a handbook for this movement of resurrectionary faith. How does the truth of the Empty Tomb and the Risen Lord influence us, really, day by day by day. Well, for starters (as one long introductory chapter explains) we are to give God glory, connecting faith and God’s reputation, bearing witness with our whole lives of the heaviness of the reality of God’s own reality. It seems almost a given, to say that God gets the glory. But what might that look and feel like for ordinary folks, doing what they do?
There are plenty of short chapters — a few quite heavy, but many nearly whimsical. There are pieces of how to glorify God in reading comic books and in roller skating. There are chapters about work (and I wrote one about the complexities of retail and living within economic systems.) There are chapters on things like knitting and drawing and there are rich chapters on suffering well, on bearing up under chronic pain; there is one about depression and one about therapy. From Calvin Seerveld’s wise, deep entry on knowing to Steve Scott’s piece on storytelling to Tamara Hill Murphy’s chapter on napping, to Curt Thompson’s amazing piece on “Presence” each shows how creaturely life can be lived well as ordinary saints. For a handful of reasons, you should read Ned Bustard’s intimate piece on lovemaking and for a handful of other reasons you should read Leslie Bustard’s wonderful piece called “Homemaking: Houses of Cedar and the Home of God” which, like the author herself, is good and true and beautiful.
Rethinking Life: Embracing the Sacredness of Every Person Shane Claiborne (Zondervan) $19.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99
Ever since Shane’s fabulous book that took the religious publishing world with such vigor and joy nearly two decades ago (Irresistible Revolution) we have promoted each of his new volumes. I’ve announced this one before, a month ago. Shane hasn’t written that much, though — he is too busy serving the poor in his Camden neighborhood, teaching blacksmithing and welding to young folks there (so they can, in one of his most well-received projects, literally turn guns into garden tools) and travelling around speaking out against the brutalities of the death penalty and the unbiblical incongruities of the religious right. His journey away from a right-wing fundamentalism to an “ordinary radical” as a “consistent life ethic” evangelical, informed by Dorothy Day and Ron Sider and Walter Brueggemann, say, is itself quite a story. We are fans, even if we don’t live the radical life he has so boldly chosen.
This recent book is key for anyone wondering about the social implications of a resurrection faith. Of course we talk about how the risen Christ has defeated death. The very power of Life breaks out of the tomb and animates his followers. What a way into this topic by asking what it means to seriously embrace the sacredness of every person.
This is not mostly a book about abortion; indeed, Shane starts with a discussion of wonder and awe (by way of talking with the Eastern University astronomer Dr. David Bradstreet) and draws in insights from Jewish thinker Martin Buber and agrarian theologian Norman Wirzba. As you can imagine, he is big on nurturing the prophetic imagination and invites us to think about being for “life” when topics like poverty and racial injustice and gun ownership come up.
Please read each of these endorsements by four different sorts of faith leaders and consider if you, too, should get this one on your reading list.
At a time of deep divisions, when religious faith is too often reduced to a marker of political allegiance and lines are too quickly drawn between friend and foe, Shane Claiborne offers a voice of resistance. Drawing on biblical teaching and church history, Claiborne invites readers to grapple with difficult issues with honesty, compassion, and courage. Rethinking Life is not just a book for progressive Christians but is for all Christians who seek to discern how to live faithfully in troubled times. This challenging, clear-eyed, and hope-filled book is a gift to the American church. — Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Calvin University, author, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
My friend Shane has written another terrific book. He is once again insightful and clever and has filled these pages with predictably kind and sometimes hard words. Shane is a voice I trust. I deeply value his insights, and I know you will as well. — Bob Goff, Love Does, Everybody Always, and Dream Big
Rethinking Life is an intervention. In a moment when the politics of life is leading to death, master storyteller and public theologian Shane Claiborne leads followers of Jesus on a brave pilgrimage through the meaning, ethics, and politics of life–and death–and love. This is one of those books you will cherish and quote for the rest of your life. — Lisa Sharon Harper, president and founder, FreedomRoad.us; Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World and How to Repair It All
I resonate with this book in the marrow of my bones! In Rethinking Life, Shane Claiborne shows us what a genuine pro-life theology, ethic, and practice demands of us and looks like in practice. Authentic Christianity has always been robustly pro-life, but it must be more than a politicized slogan selectively and narrowly applied. In Rethinking Life, Claiborne’s thinking is as keen as his heart is compassionate. And best of all, Jesus shines through on every page. — Brian Zahnd, author, When Everything’s on Fire
By Bread Alone: A Baker’s Reflections on Hunger, Longing, and the Goodness of God Kendall Vanderslice (Tyndale Momentum) $17.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39
Bread is central to the Easter story — think of the last supper on Thursday night and the stories of meals at that post-resurrection breakfast or after being on the road to Emmaus. Kendall has understood this well, even, we might say, in the marrow of her bones. As she puts it, she has “struggled with hunger ever since she can remember — hunger for bread, yes, but also of community and the ability to “test and see” the goodness of God.”
She has learned that break offers a “unique opportunity to heal our relationship to the Body of Christ — and to our own bodies.” It seems to me that if Christ’s bodily resurrection teaches us anything it is that daily bread for our bodies matters, and that we live our faith together. Vanderslice teaches about this in her Edible Theology Project (which brings together the communion table and the kitchen table, so to speak.) She is a graduate of Wheaton College, Boston University, and Duke Divinity School, and wrote the excellent little Eerdmans book, We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God. I have talked before about this new book — part memoir, part “soulful, searching glimpse at trusting the goodness of God.” It seems perfect to move us towards authentic resurrectionary living. Hooray.
I am grateful for Kendall Vanderslice’s By Bread Alone — a sustenance of hope, a needed nourishment for us hungering to create beauty faced with the bitter gaps of our divided cultures. Her words give rise to our tenderness, and her memorable chapters fill our hearts with compassion. Every page of this book (full of recipes) is brimming with refractive colors shining through the broken prisms of her life, a communion journey of service in tears, as a sojourner baker, a fellow maker into the aroma of the new. — Makoto Fujimura, artist and author of Art + Faith: A Theology of Making
Faith Like a Child: Embracing Our Lives as Children of God Lacy Finn Borgo (IVP) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40
This is brand new and I can’t wait to read it. We stock everything in the spirituality-themed IVP “formatio” line and this new one in that imprint looks gentle and lovely and thoughtful and rich — that it carries an endorsement from Richard Foster speaks volumes, eh? It is about innocence and joy and wonder and trust and more. We hear much about this call to a “child-like” (although not childish) faith and this is one of the very few books about it. As Borgo puts it, “it’s often difficult to remember the natural patterns of our childhood selves that enabled us to live freely in God’s wonder-filled presence.”
Here is a big part of what this book will be about: “As we welcome our childhood selves, we allow God to heal our wounds so we can live in freedom with Jesus as our companion.”
Lacy Finn Borgo has written curriculum for children’s spiritual formation and is a spiritual director of the Renovate Institute. She works at Haven House, a transitional facility for families without hoes. I love her wholistic faith (and that she got her certificate in spiritual direction from Portland Seminary.) She is most well known for her excellent Spiritual Conversations with Children which we have touted. And the recent children’s book All Will Be Well.
“This book is a gift from a mother who sees the world through a lens of grace.” — Linda Taylor, Episcopal priest and spiritual director.
Becoming the Church: God’s People in Purpose and Power Claude R. Alexander, Jr. (IVP) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40
As you may know we have a huge selection of books about the nature of the church, about church revitalization, about small church life, about ministry, and tons for pastors and preachers. We affirm the Lordship of Christ over all areas of life and the priesthood of all believers, so our store has stuff on science and art and politics and sports and business and gardening, and so much more. But let’s face it — most of our customers are involved in churches and congregational life is certainly something that captures much of our time and attention.
I could name a dozen recent books on church life, but wanted to share at least this. For those of us inspired by the new life of Easter, whose imaginations are captured by the promises of the Risen Lord, we simply must, of course, pay fresh attention to the health of our communities of faith. Resurrectionary life is rooted in the local, worshipping body.
Becoming the Church is an inspiring call to not give up on the church, and it starts with a brief reflection on the end of John 20, an early post-resurrection account. Bishop Claude Alexander is senior pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, NC, and while he serves on the boards of several respected evangelical ministries (including the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), his primary calling is to the local church.
As Tom Lin, president and CEO of IVCF/USA nicely puts it:
Bishop Alexander’s love for the church inspires and challenges us. With thoughtful imagination and examination of the early church, he masterfully weaves together a tapestry of biblical voices that speaks to a beautiful vision of the church. This book is an essential guide for anyone wanting to help churches become what God intended, beginning with ourselves.
Pentecost: A Day of Power for All People Emilio Alvarez (IVP) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00
I know not everyone believes in the ecumenical insights drawn from the historic practice of living into the church year as seen in the liturgical calendar, but most of us know the wisdom of being attuned to at least some semblance of the flow from Advent to Christmas, Lent to Easter, etc. Easter’s resurrection invites us to live anew, and part of this, it might be argued, is to forthwith be paying more attention to these seminal moments in the church calendar.
IVP has done us all a great favor by commissioning wise authors to reflect on key moments of the year. The first in this “Fullness of Time” series was by Esau McCauley (Lent:The Season of Repentance and Renewal) and this one, Pentecost, is the second, just out last week.
(The next one, by the way, which you could pre-order now if you’d like, will be Advent: The Season of Hope, by Tish Harrison Warren. It will be in our store this August.)
Dr. Alvarez (with a PhD from Fordham, a Roman Catholic institution) is the presiding bishop of the Union of Charismatic Orthodox Churches, a communion that stands in the apostolic tradition, both liturgical and Pentecostal. Hooray for that. And, obviously, it situates him well to offer this one-of-a-kind introduction to the day and following season of Pentecost.
Each slim, hardback volume in the Fullness of Time series invites readers to engage with the riches of the church year, exploring the traditions prayers, Scriptures, and rituals of the seasons of the church calendar.
I like the good word from Christine Pohl, who notes that this book “draws on a rich array of ancient and contemporary sources” and that “Emilio Alvarez takes us on a brief and fascinating journey through various meanings and expressions of Pentecost.”
You shall receive power, Jesus promised. Easter may be the highlight, the day of vindication and victory, but the story isn’t over yet. There has been (as this book puts it) “a long legacy of minimizing the Holy Spirit’s role and gifts” which has drained Pentecost of much of its significance. I trust it isn’t too misunderstood (or ignored) in your church. In any case, I’m sure this new book will help.
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